Brown-Forman Reports Year-to-Date Results; Revises Full-Year OutlookPosted by On

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–()–Brown-Forman Corporation (NYSE: BFA) (NYSE: BFB) reported financial results for its third quarter and nine months ended January 31, 2020. For the third quarter, the company’s reported net sales1 were essentially flat at $899 million (+3% on an underlying basis2) compared to the same prior-year period. Reported operating income decreased 5% to $304 million (+5% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share rose 2% to $0.48.

For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the company’s reported net sales increased 3% to $2.7 billion (+3% on an underlying basis). Reported operating income decreased 1% to $904 million (-1% on an underlying basis) and diluted earnings per share increased 4% to $1.45.

Lawson Whiting, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer said, “Today, we revised our full-year outlook to reflect tempered expectations in some of our international markets as well as the increasingly uncertain global economic and geopolitical environment. While we are cautious regarding our near-term outlook, we continue to build our business, as we always have, for the long term. We believe the strength of our brands and the health of our balance sheet places Brown-Forman in a strong position both today and for the long term.”

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Highlights

  • Underlying net sales grew 3% (+3% reported), maintaining growth consistent with the first half of fiscal 2020

    • The United States and emerging markets each grew underlying net sales 6% (+7% and +4% reported, respectively), while our developed international markets grew underlying net sales 2% (flat reported)
    • Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew underlying net sales 3% (+2% reported) driven by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple in the United States, Jack Daniel’s RTDs in Germany and the United States, and broad-based growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
    • Premium bourbons grew underlying net sales 22% (+25% reported) led by Woodford Reserve’s 19% underlying net sales growth (+22% reported) and propelled by even stronger net sales growth from Old Forester, our founding brand celebrating its 150th year
    • Our tequila portfolio grew underlying net sales 10% (+9% reported), led by Herradura’s 20% underlying net sales growth (+20% reported) and el Jimador’s 11% underlying net sales growth (+8% reported)
    • Non-branded and bulk underlying net sales declined 27% (-28% reported) reflecting lower used barrel demand and a reduction in bulk whiskey sales
  • Diluted earnings per share increased 4% to $1.45

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Results By Market – Net Sales Growth Led by the United States

Year-to-date underlying net sales in the United States grew 6% (+7% reported). Top-line gains were driven by continued double-digit growth from our premium bourbons, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, and double-digit underlying net sales growth in aggregate from Herradura and el Jimador. Sustained double-digit growth of Jack Daniel’s RTDs3 also contributed to our largest market’s growth with solid underlying net sales.

Underlying net sales in the company’s emerging markets grew 6% (+4% reported) accelerating slightly in the quarter reflecting volume gains for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Russia delivered strong underlying net sales growth up 15% (+14% reported) driven by expanding consumer demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Poland’s underlying net sales improved in the quarter lifting underlying net sales growth year-to-date to 6% (+3% reported) driven by strong growth for the Jack Daniel’s family of brands. Brazil grew underlying net sales 6% (+12% reported) fueled by higher volumes of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. In a weakening economy, Mexico’s underlying net sales growth moderated to 2% (+1% reported).

Our developed international markets grew underlying net sales 2% (flat reported). Germany’s underlying net sales grew 5% (+6% reported) fueled by volume growth for Jack Daniel’s RTDs. France grew underlying net sales 3% (+3% reported) reflecting higher volumes of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and the launch of Jack Daniel’s RTDs, which were partially offset by declines of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Australia’s underlying net sales grew 1% (-2% reported) as gains from the super-premium American whiskey portfolio offset declines of Jack Daniel’s RTDs. In the United Kingdom, underlying net sales declined 7% (-9% reported) driven by softness in the cash and carry channel and short-term disruptions from changes to our promotional strategy and upcoming route-to-market transition.

Travel Retail’s underlying net sales declined 3% (-4% reported) as lower volumes for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey offset volume gains from Woodford Reserve.

Underlying net sales for the company’s non-branded business, largely comprised of used barrels, bulk whiskey, and contract bottling, declined 27% (-28% reported) year-to-date. This reduction was largely driven by lower volumes and prices for used barrels and a reduction in bulk whiskey sales.

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Results By Brand

The company’s underlying net sales growth was led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands, up 3% (+2% reported). The launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple in the United States, sustained growth of Jack Daniel’s RTDs led by Germany, the United States, and France, and solid international growth of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Gentleman Jack drove the family of brand’s growth. Underlying net sales of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey were flat (-2% reported) as growth in emerging markets was offset by declines in the United Kingdom and Travel Retail. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey reported 7% (+4% reported) underlying net sales growth reflecting broad-based volumetric gains led by France, Czechia, Poland and the United States, while Gentleman Jack grew underlying net sales 7% (+3% reported) driven by Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Brown-Forman’s portfolio of premium bourbon brands, including Woodford Reserve and Old Forester, continued their double-digit underlying net sales growth of 22% (+25% reported). Woodford Reserve, the leader in the super-premium bourbon category, surpassed the one million 9L case mark during the quarter growing underlying net sales 19% (+22% reported) during the nine months ended January 31, 2020. Woodford Reserve’s growth was led by the United States, where consumer takeaway trends remain strong, along with broad-based volume growth internationally. Old Forester, celebrating its 150th year, maintained an even faster rate of underlying net sales growth powered by volumetric gains and favorable mix from the brand’s high-end expressions.

Brown-Forman’s tequila brands sustained double-digit underlying net sales growth led by Herradura 20% (+20% reported) and el Jimador 11% (+8% reported). Herradura’s underlying net sales growth was driven by higher volumes, favorable product mix, and higher pricing in the United States and Mexico. el Jimador’s underlying net sales growth was driven by higher volumes in the United States as consumer takeaway trends remain strong.

Year-to-Date Fiscal 2020 Other P&L Items

Company-wide price/mix improvements contributed approximately 1% to the increase in underlying net sales reflecting faster growth from higher-priced brands led by the Jack Daniel’s family of brands and Woodford Reserve coupled with 2% volume growth. Underlying gross profit was flat (-1% reported) and reported gross margin contracted 220 bps to 63.1% driven by higher input costs and tariff-related costs. Higher input costs reflect the continued cost pressures from agave and wood.

Underlying advertising expense grew 3% (+1% reported) reflecting increased investment to support the launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple as well as increased spending on Woodford Reserve. Underlying SG&A was flat year-to-date (-1% reported) driven by lower compensation-related expenses. Underlying operating income declined 1% (-1% reported).

Financial Stewardship

On January 28, 2020, the Brown-Forman Board of Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.1743 per share on the Class A and Class B common stock, resulting in an annualized cash dividend of $0.6972 per share. The quarterly cash dividend is payable on April 1, 2020, to stockholders of record on March 9, 2020. Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 74 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 36 consecutive years.

Fiscal Year 2020 Outlook

The company revised the full-year outlook to reflect tempered expectations in some of its international markets reflecting both short-term disruptions and an increasingly uncertain global economic and geopolitical environment. This outlook also includes an estimated impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

  • Low-single digit underlying net sales growth
  • Flat to modest decline in underlying operating income
  • Diluted earnings per share of $1.75 to $1.80

Conference Call Details

Brown-Forman will host a conference call to discuss these results at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) today. All interested parties in the United States are invited to join the conference call by dialing 888-624-9285 and asking for the Brown-Forman call. International callers should dial +1-706-679-3410. The company suggests that participants dial in ten minutes in advance of the 10:00 a.m. (EDT) start of the conference call. A live audio broadcast of the conference call, and the accompanying presentation slides, will also be available via Brown-Forman’s Internet website, http://www.brown-forman.com/, through a link to “Investors/Events & Presentations.” A digital audio recording of the conference call and the presentation slides will also be posted on the website and will be available for at least 30 days following…

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